Alarmed by evidence that gay and lesbian students are common victims of schoolyard bullies, many school districts are bolstering antiharassment rules with early lessons in tolerance, explaining that some children have “two moms” or will grow up to love members of the same sex. The New York Times say efforts to teach acceptance of homosexuality, which have gained urgency after well-publicized suicides by gay teenagers, are provoking new culture wars in some communities.
Last month, the U.S. Education Department told schools they were obligated under civil rights laws to try to prevent harassment, including that based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The agency did not address the controversy over more explicit classroom materials in grade schools. Some districts, especially in larger cities, have adopted tolerance lessons with minimal dissent. In suburban districts in California, Illinois and Minnesota, as well in Helena, Mt., the programs have unleashed fierce opposition.